Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022
Outlook.com
opinion

An Awadhi Lilt For Obama

Let's realise that language bridges make for creative cohesion

An Awadhi Lilt For Obama
Illustration by Sorit
An Awadhi Lilt For Obama
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Sections of India are communicating less and less with each other across our complex linguistic divides. But Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Chhattisgarhi, Haryanvi, Magahi and Marwari—six languages not in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India, which lists 22—are among the 20 Indian and 101 languages from across the world listed in the application form brought out by the Barack Obama administration for filling up thousands of political positions in the executive branch of the US government. It asks applicants to list the countries they have lived in and the languages they know. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Maithili, Malayalam, Nepali, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu are the scheduled Indian languages named in the form. I guess even applicants for Indian administrative positions aren't asked if they know any of the 96 unscheduled languages or dialects of India.

The Obama administration's questionnaire is a reminder once again that the dominance of the West in the modern world has gone hand in hand with learning languages and acquiring multilingual skills. In imperial and colonial times, this was necessary for the penetration and subjugation of regions vastly different from that of the coloniser.

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